Should We Keep The Sabbath Day?

By Daniel H. King Sr.

Occasionally we are asked why it is that we do not observe the Sabbath Day. Sometimes the one who inquires is a religious partisan who wishes to make a point. At other times the per-son who asks is someone who merely does not know and would like to have an answer. Regardless of their motivation for asking, it is incumbant upon us to give a valid reason for our faith and practice in this matter, as in all matters (1 Pet. 3:15). Truth has nothing to fear from open investigation.

Several considerations need to be noted by all those who wonder about our refusal to observe the Sabbath to-day. These points are simple, yet unappreciated by individuals who would obligate us to this Jewish practice in the present Christian dispensation of time.

Sabbath Keeping Was A Part Of The Law of Moses, And

Moses’ Law Has Been Done Away In Christ

The Law of Moses, and in particular the Ten Commandments, were “written and engraven on stones.” The new covenant of Christ, on the other hand, was “written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in tables that are hearts of flesh” (2 Cor. 3:3). Furthermore, what was written on stone (the Ten Commandments), was a killing law, i.e., led to death because of human disobedience, while the new covenant of the Spirit is a life-giving ministration (2 Cor. 3:7). In that same context, Paul says that this old covenant has passed away; it has been replaced by that which possesses a greater and superior glory (2 Cor.3:11). The law of Moses has been abolished: “. . . having abolished in the flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; that he might create in himself of the two one new man, so making peace (Eph. 2:15). Christ, through his cross, “blotted out the bond written in ordinances” of the old law: “.. . having blotted out the bond written in ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us: and he hath taken it out of the way, nailing it to the cross” (Col. 2:14). Sabbath law, along with the rest of Moses’ law, was taken away by the cross of Jesus.

Sabbath Law Was Only Given To

Hebrews In The First Place

The theological doctrine which to-day binds sabbath-keeping upon Christians totally ignores the fact that the sabbath was instituted for the Jews and never for Gentiles. The sabbath was given to the Hebrews to help them remember their own experience in Egypt: “And thou shalt remember that thou wast a servant in the land of Egypt, and Jehovah thy God brought thee out thence by a mighty hand and by an outstretched arm: therefore Jehovah thy God commanded thee to keep the sabbath day” (Deut. 5:15). It was a unique sign between God and the children of Israel: “Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the sabbath, to observe the sabbath through-out their generations, for a perpetual covenant. It is a sign between me and the children of Israel for ever: for in six days Jehovah made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested, and was refreshed” (Exod. 31:16-17). The sabbath was never for Gentiles, nor was it ever practiced by the church!

Sabbath Law Was Revealed At

Sinai, Not At Creation

It is often alleged that the Sabbath was given at the creation for all men of all times to observe. This is not true. The Sabbath was not revealed until the Law was given by Moses to Israel at Sinai. The book of Nehemiah acknowledges this in the ninth chap-ter: “Thou tamest down also upon mount Sinai, and spakest with them from heaven, and gayest them right ordinances and true laws, good statutes and commandments, and madest known unto them thy holy sabbath, and commandedst them commandments, and statutes, and a law, by Moses thy servant” (Neh. 9:13-14). Moses, who revealed the Sabbath to the people at Sinai, explained its having been “hallowed” by God in his narrative about creation in Genesis 2:1-3. He does not say in Genesis that it was hallowed then, only that God rested then, and hallowed it later at Sinai. If it had been hallowed and commanded at the creation, why did none of the patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, etc.) ever observe it?

Sabbath Observance Was

Forbidden To Gentile Christians

In Paul’s Galatian epistle he hammered home the fact that the law of Moses was not to be seen as binding upon the church. He warned Christians not to be entangled again in a yoke of borldage (Gal. 5:1), but to continue in the freedom from the law of Moses which Jesus had wrought upon the cross. Since circumcision was the main issue in Galatians, other facts are often ignored, such as his condemnation of observance of the Jewish holy days: “Ye observe days, and months, and seasons, and years. I am afraid of you, lest by any means I have bestowed labor upon you in vain” (Gal. 4:10-11). The sabbath was one of those Jewish holy days to which he makes reference here! Paul feared that, just as these Gentiles had once been servants of idolatrous gods (v. 8), they would now serve the false apostles who had invaded their number, make themselves subservient to the entire law (cf. 5:3), and ultimately sever themselves from Christ and his grace (cf. 5:4).

Christians Are Not To Be Judged By Jewish Laws

So says Paul in his letter to the Colossians. The New Testament requirements are the basis of our judgment, not those things found in the Old Testament. The Old Testament legislation was requisite for Hebrews living under that covenant; we are not to be judged by these “shadows”: “Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of a feast day or a new moon or a sabbath day: whichare a shadow of the things to come; but the body is Christ’s” (Col. 2:16-17).

Christians Are To Worship

On The First Day Of The Week: Sunday

This was the day of our Lord’s resurrection (John 20:1). It was the day upon which early Christians assembled to worship and commemorate the Lord’s death and resurrection (Acts 20:7). On this same day they gave of their means (1 Cor. 16:1-2), since it was the important day of Christian assembly. In the Old Testament the sabbath was a day of holy convocation and assembly (Lev. 23:3). In the New Testament Christians are never seen observing this day or meeting in such convocations, save to teach and convert Jews in their own meetings. Christians worshipped on the first day of the week, the day we call Sunday, since sabbath celebration ended for them with the Lord’s death on the cross.

Guardian of Truth XLI: 2 p. 12-13
January 16, 1997